Friday, August 31, 2018

High School Fridays: Week 1 roundup

A decrease in enrollment sent 2-time Section 2 Class AA champion Troy back to Class A this year. Unfortunately, while the Flying Horses graduated almost all of their starters from a year ago, that lack of varsity experience came up and bit them in a non-league opener against Schalmont (Class B) tonight.

James Allen sounded the warning during Spectrum News' Friday Night Matchup broadcast as he & Chris Watson reported that Troy trailed the Sabres, 14-6, in the 4th quarter with 9 minutes left. Allen attended a scrimmage between Troy and Newburgh Free Academy last weekend, and watched Bob Burns' club get knocked around. Troy returns just one starter from a year ago, sophomore DB/RB/KR Xavier Leigh, and reloaded with players promoted from the junior varsity. With less than a week between the scrimmage and tonight's game, it was clear that there are lessons still to be learned, as Troy's 26 game winning streak ends with the 14-6 final score.

Troy stays on the road, traveling to Amsterdam next week, seeking revenge for what had been the only blemish on Burns' record prior to tonight, that being in the 2015 Class A title game. Amsterdam, coming off a down year themselves, routed Lansingburgh, 37-14. The Knights will have their home opener next Friday vs. Schalmont.
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Meanwhile, Friday Night Matchup began its 2018 season with a Class AA tilt between Saratoga and Christian Brothers Academy in the Spa City.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Blue Streaks drew first blood as Chris Klimek capped a second quarter drive with a 3 yard touchdown run. Saratoga led, 7-0, at halftime. In the third quarter, Deon Williams scored from in close to increase the lead to 14-0 for Saratoga. CBA's Fred Smith, making his first varsity start, found Devon Jones in the end zone. One two point conversion later, and, suddenly, the lead was six points at 14-8. However, that would be as close as CBA would get.

Later in the quarter, Saratoga QB Jake Williams took it in himself from 3 yards out, extending the lead to 21-8. Klimek finished the scoring with his second TD. Elijah Taylor and Ashton Capone registered sacks of Smith in the fourth quarter to ice it, and Saratoga, seeking their second straight Super Bowl berth, walks off with a 27-8 win.
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LaSalle won their opener for new coach John Audino, whose last game as a high school coach was as the freshman coach for CBA, all the way back in 1975, routing Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, 43-14. If tonight is any indication, this year's Collar City Cup game, coming up in two weeks, will not be a one sided affair like it was the last two years. Remember, it'll be LaSalle seeking revenge.

A Classic Reborn: Las Vegas Gambit (1980)

Apparently, Bob Quigley had a good reason to retire after the 1980-1 season.

Quigley and long time partner Merrill Heatter, decided to relocate Hollywood Squares to Las Vegas after it was cancelled by NBC. However, the network was more than willing to take a chance on Heatter-Quigley reviving an earlier CBS series, also in Sin City.

Las Vegas Gambit bowed in October 1980, more than a month after Squares began its 15th season (1st in syndication), with Wink Martindale returning as host. Unfortunately, the viewer interests had changed in the four years since the original Gambit had ended, and NBC no longer ruled daytime. Las Vegas Gambit was inserted after David Letterman's daytime talk show was cancelled, but about a year later, this Gambit ultimately went bust, too.

Then again, the Tropicana Hotel had also been home to a syndicated game, Dealer's Choice, which went through two hosts in its two years on the air, a few years earlier. It just wasn't meant to be a place for a game show.

Here's the series opener:



Not as much fun as the original.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Forgotten TV: The Movie Game (1969)

There have been a few game shows built around movies over the years. ABC tried something called The Reel Game, which didn't last long, for example. AMC gave Gene Rayburn his last game show, The Movie Masters (previously reviewed), for another.

The Movie Game, I thought, was another network show, but sources say it's a syndicated entry that went through two hosts in its three years (1969-72). In the video below, Sonny Fox (ex-Wonderama, later of Way Out Games) was tried out, with veteran Johnny Gilbert (no relation) as announcer. Subsequently, actor-turned-game show host Larry Blyden (ex-Personality) took over for Fox for the balance of the run before moving to What's My Line?'s syndicated run, where he succeeded Wally Bruner.

Independent producers Henry Jaffe & Bob Stivers packaged The Movie Game, and the use of film clips in some segments will recall another popular syndicated game show, Sports Challenge, which came along in 1971, and had a healthy run for most of the decade.

In this episode, Fox presides over Laugh-In's Dan Rowan & Dick Martin (who are on opposite teams), Greer Garson, & Sharon Farrell, with well known gossip columnist Army Archerd heard from as well.



As memory serves, Henry Jaffe later packaged Dinah Shore's NBC daytime series, Dinah's Place.

Rating: A.

On The Air: CBS News Sunday Morning (1979)

For all of the changes CBS has made with their morning news programs over the years, one constant has been their Sunday Morning news magazine, which launched in 1979. In the course of nearly 40 years on the air, the program has had just three anchors. Co-creator Charles Kuralt was the first (1979-94), giving him something to do besides his legendary On The Road pieces for the CBS Evening News. Charles Osgood succeeded Kuralt in 1994, and retired in 2016. Jane Pauley (ex-The Today Show) was lured from retirement to succeed Osgood and is the current anchor.

Designed in a way to be a visual "Sunday supplement", something you wouldn't find in, say, the New York Times, Sunday Morning mixes hard news with softer, lighter pieces, and sets the table for Face The Nation, which follows.

While CBS runs dead last in the weekday morning race, rivals NBC & ABC have developed Sunday editions of Today & Good Morning America, respectively, in recent years. I don't know what the ratings are on Sundays, but this might be the only day where CBS prevails.

In this clip from 2014, Mo Rocca (The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation) takes a look at the wit of "The Great Communicator", the late Ronald Reagan, with help from Drew Carey (The Price is Right):



Current President Donald Trump aspires to make America great again, just as Reagan did during his administration (1981-9). Unfortunately, Trump lacks Reagan's charismatic presence, wit, and humility. Would Trump use self-depreciating humor? Nope. His loss.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thinks it might be in the best interests of everyone involved if they trimmed the preseason to just 2 games, 3 for the teams playing the Hall of Fame game, obviously, and expanding the regular season to 18. His son disagrees, and so do I.

Now, Jones wants to err on the side of player safety, but if he thinks most injuries occur in August, he's way wrong. The only way an 18 game schedule works, in this writer's opinion, is if you move the start of the season to before Labor Day, in lockstep with college football.

But, who is Jones kidding? Some teams pamper their millionaire stars by letting them choose when they'll play in the preseason (i.e. Patriots, Giants) to better protect them from injuries. As it is, the season starts the weekend after Labor Day, and runs through the holidays, thanks to the addition of bye weeks in recent years. In short, this ain't gonna work.
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Mets owners Fred & Jeff Wilpon have already waved the white flag on the season, and for the second time this month, made a trade with division rival Philadelphia, this time sending outfielder Jose Bautista to the Phillies for cash or a player to be named later. The Mets pulled "Joey Bats" off the Atlanta scrap heap earlier this year, and he helped the Phils in his first game Wednesday night as they beat Washington.

Meanwhile, the Wilpons are catching heat from representatives for minor league infielder Peter Alonso, who's been tearing up the minors this season. Apparently, the no-name agents don't understand the whole concept of teams preserving major league service time for prospects like Alonso, who will not be with the big club come Saturday when the rosters expand. There's already a logjam at his position, first base, as the Mets are using Wilmer Flores, who has played all four infield positions with the team, and erstwhile outfielder Jay Bruce, and Dominic Smith will likely get some time when he returns on Saturday. Then, they were also looking at Yoenis Cespedes at first before he was sidelined for the year. That said, the Mets feel there wouldn't be enough time for Alonso to get a look in the final month of the season, and he'll have equal opportunity for a shot in spring training next year.

It wasn't so long ago that baseball's biggest pain in the neck, Scott Boras, was crying the blues on the same subject when it came to the Cubs' Kris Bryant, one of his bazillion clients. Boras doesn't care about team policy. He just wants more than his fair share for himself, moreso than his clients. That's been a reality for a long time. Teams are looking to protect their investments in players before they hit the free agent market, but it wouldn't surprise me if Alonso's agents decide they want their guy moved to another team. Do yourselves a favor, guys. Your 15 minutes are already up. Go away.
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Took a look at the Class A predictions posted by James Allen in today's Albany Times-Union. Despite one returning starter (sophomore DB/RB/KR Xavier Leigh), Allen sees Troy High running the table again, winning the Capital Division. If Allen's math is right, it'd be Troy vs. old nemesis Burnt Hills in the A Super Bowl in November at Shen. LaSalle is tabbed to finish 3rd in the Capital, but I'd not be surprised if John Audino's club actually exceeds expectations.

Meanwhile, Troy High's other sports teams are looking for a win.

The boys' soccer team opened on the road Tuesday morning, and were shut out, 7-0, by Ballston Spa. The Scotties also blanked Troy's women's team, 2-0, and swept a volleyball match in straight sets. As of press time, the result of Troy's volleyball match vs. Averill Park, while it may be in today's Times-Union, isn't in El Cheapo Press just yet. The volleyball team opened with a non-league win, also in straight sets, over Catholic Central last week, so they're 1-1 on the season overall, 0-1 in the Suburban Council. The girls' tennis results have not been reported, but given recent history, I'd say they're also winless.
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As of this morning, the Tri-City Valleycats are on the verge of ending a two year playoff draught.

Jason Bell's club beat Lowell, 7-0, Wednesday, to lower their magic number for clinching the Stedler Division title to 2, meaning a Valleycat win tonight, coupled with a Vermont loss, would give the 'Cats their first division title since 2015. This after getting blown out of Bruno Stadium on consecutive nights by Aberdeen. The team is so sure of a postseason that they started selling "potential" playoff tickets a week ago. Five games remain, still enough time for a collapse, but you just never know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Rockin' Funnies: Call The Police (1982)

After six seasons, Laverne & Shirley was uprooted from Milwaukee, and the cast relocated to LA. That included Lenny & Squiggy (Michael McKean & David L. Lander), who decided to start a talent agency. Apparently, their best clients were themselves.

This, I think, might have been the last novelty number from the boys. Here's "Call The Police".

On The Shelf: Cats, birds, ducks, and Jokers.....

As you can imagine from the header, the latest round of DC-Looney Tunes 1-shot specials landed in stores today. If you haven't gotten your copies yet, what are you waiting for?

The Joker crosses swords with Daffy Duck. Actually, at first, Daffy is hired on as a henchman after accidentally locating the Clown Prince of Crime's HQ du jour. Considering this came from the same team that put Speed Buggy with The Flash earlier this year (Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund), this didn't have enough of the manic energy one would've expected from this pairing. Of course, the Batman makes an obligatory appearance, since his biggest enemy is involved. The backup, written by Joey Cavalieri, comes closer to the spirit intended, but why is Catwoman in Arkham in that story? That's a screw-up if there ever was one.

Rating: B-.

Joker's ex, Harley Quinn, I will maintain, would've been a perfect match for Daffy. However, she's paired with Gossamer, the giant monster who tangled with Bugs Bunny in shorts such as "Water, Water, Every Hare", and as such, is a mute, unlike his later iteration from The Looney Tunes Show. The man-child version would've been a better fit for Harl. Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti's script has Harley in a bikini for most of the story (and you know that would've excited Daffy or anyone else). If Gossamer was allowed to talk, how would he react? Joker & Batman show up here, too, as there is no continuity between these 1-offs.

The backup, by Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up) and regular Looney Tunes artist Dave Alvarez, sees a different POV, and Harl mistakes the scientist for Dr. Hugo Strange. Cute. The fanboys will buy it in multiples and copy all the bikini shots of Harley.

Rating: A+.

Catwoman meets Tweety & Sylvester, but this is a wacky story all by itself, courtesy of writer Gail Simone. See, the Weird Sisters (Mildred, Mordred, & Cynthia) from The Witching Hour have made a bet with Witch Hazel involving cats & birds, even humans with feline or avian themes. Hence, a ton of cameos to support Catwoman and Black Canary. Add Klarion, the Witchboy, an old foe of Etrigan, The Demon, and this is totally cray-cray.

Rating: A+.

Speaking of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, the latest issue brings closure to The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, which, like Scooby-Doo, marks its 50th anniversary next year. We figure out the anachronistic time line between Perils and Wacky Races, and, well, ain't gonna spoil it for you, since Fisch's script is so predictable, Penelope finally learns the truth about the Hooded Claw.

The editors like predictable and generic plotting, otherwise, Fisch would've been off the book a while ago, and a better writer, like, for example, Jeff Parker (Batman '66, Future Quest) could craft better stories. I can suggest one involving a certain pair of aliens and a rubber tailed monkey, and......!

Rating: B--.

Of Recent Vintage: Lingo (2002)

In 2002, Game Show Network obtained the rights to a little seen Ralph Andrews entry from 15 years earlier. Andrews' version of Lingo lasted one season, with Andrews having to finish the season hosting the show himself.

GSN had a better idea. They called in Chuck Woolery (ex-Wheel of Fortune, Your Hit Parade, Scrabble, Love Connection), and got six "seasons" over a 5 year period (2002-7). To me, they ended the show too soon, falling short of 400 episodes produced over that span.

Four years later, actor-comedian Bill Engvall was brought in, but this attempt at reviving Lingo lasted just a couple of months before GSN pulled the plug. Engvall didn't have the charisma of his Blue Collar Comedy buddy, Jeff Foxworthy (Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, American Bible Challenge), or the presence to pull it off.

Here's an episode from the Woolery era:



Standard stuff.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Origin of a Classic: Shopper's Bazaar (1973)

In 2020, Wheel of Fortune will turn 45. The show we know today would not exist if not for series creator Merv Griffin tinkering with his original idea, which was tried out in a pilot called Shopper's Bazaar in 1973. Thankfully, it didn't air, although actor-singer Chuck Woolery, brought in as MC, would eventually land the Wheel gig nearly 18 months later, after Edd Byrnes had bombed out in two pilots, largely because he was caught having to verbally memorize vowels, according to accounts.

The Byrnes pilots, with original letter turner Susan Stafford, haven't turned up online. However, there's this.....



Well, at least Griffin had enough money to spruce up the set.......

Rating: C-.

Forgotten TV: The Great Adventure (1963)

CBS took a chance on a historical anthology drama in 1963, and while The Great Adventure would make a great teaching tool today, it failed to connect with viewers, and was cancelled after 1 season.

I think the idea was that the network didn't want another sci-fi series in the vein of Twilight Zone. ABC was doing that with The Outer Limits. Originally, film star Van Heflin was the narrator, but that isn't the case in the episode, "The Colonel From Connecticut", which stars Richard Kiley, and features Howard Caine, later of Hogan's Heroes, in a supporting role. Russell Johnson, better known for Gilligan's Island, which came along the next year, subs for Heflin as narrator.



I was but an infant when this was on the air, and it wasn't until years later that I learned of its existence.

Rating: B.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Does cologne require a self-defense course? (1970?)

Hai Karate after shave & cologne was only around between the 60's & 80's, but left a lasting, indelible impression on the advertising world. Check out this sample ad.



Actress Valerie Leon of the "Carry On" series of British comedy films appeared in ads airing in the UK. Not sure if the above ad is one of those.

ABC Fall Preview 55 years ago (1963)

Ah, yas, I was but an infant in 1963. Just the same, I am obliged to offer ABC's fall preview promo reel for that year. Yas, indeed.

The "alphabet network" overhauled its lineup in '63, adding some new hits to established favorites such as The Flintstones, The Price is Right, Ben Casey, McHale's Navy, & Combat. Some of the newbies have been reviewed here before. To wit:

The Farmer's Daughter, which would trade places with Price before season's end.
The Patty Duke Show
Burke's Law
The Outer Limits
The Fugitive

The bi-weekly Edie Adams Show, aka Here's Edie, was a carryover from the previous season, as was spring replacement Hootenanny. Sid Caesar was given a slot alternating with Edie Adams. In time, we will look at:

The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, with Kurt Russell and some guest appearances by the Osmond Brothers.
100 Grand. A short-lived quiz hosted by Jack Clark.
Breaking Point
Channing
The Greatest Show on Earth. Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus decided to sign off on a dramatization of life under the big top, with Jack Palance as the lead. It'd be 12 years before Palance would land another series (CBS' Bronk).
The Jerry Lewis Show. Jerry was given two hours on Saturdays in back of Lawrence Welk, but was done after 13 weeks, replaced by The Hollywood Palace, and Jerry would try again at NBC with a hour-long show a few years later.
Arrest & Trial, Chuck Connors' 1st post-Rifleman entry, and he'd have two more before the end of the decade.

The entire production of the Fall Preview was written by comedy icon Mel Brooks, who would return to ABC 12 years later with When Things Were Rotten, his first attempt at satirizing Robin Hood. Chet Gould is the announcer, and later worked for Goodson-Todman.



As you could see, Caesar was trying to recapture the spirit of fellow comedy legend Ernie Kovacs, who'd passed away a year earlier. Unfortunately, viewers weren't buying.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What Might've Been: Grandpa Goes to Washington (1978)

Fresh off Chico & The Man, Jack Albertson wasted no time landing another series gig. The problem was, NBC stuck Grandpa Goes to Washington on the wrong night.

Albertson this time plays a college professor forced into retirement due to the mandatory retirement age. He gets prodded into running for the United States Senate. With a son in the military (Larry Linville, ex-M*A*S*H), newly elected Senator Joe Kelley should have no problems navigating the potholes in Washington, right? Wrong. The friction between father & son made up some of the tension on the show.

So what was the wrong night? Tuesday, opposite Happy Days. Game over.

Unfortunately, no episodes are available now. All that's left is a network promo.



My folks & I did sample the show, but they didn't find it interesting.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Here is the sad reality of semi-pro football in the 21st century.

Aside from a season opening puff piece that El Cheapo Media did when the season started, the Troy Fighting Irish are relegated to low priority status. It's bad enough during the balance of the regular season, when you're competing with the Tri-City Valleycats across town and, when Arena Football is in session, the Albany Empire, who have become a proven draw in their first season.

Even though Saturday's home finale vs. Auburn started well after the Travers had ended at Saratoga, no one at El Cheapo Media, or any other media outlet worth their press credentials, for that matter, could be bothered to travel to Lansingburgh High, the Irish's home field. No television cameras to be found, a far, far cry from the 70's, when the Metro Mallers, at the peak of their popularity, had a weekly half hour magazine show on WAST (now WNYT). There are no programs to be had, so, unless you were able to print the roster off the website, you had to rely on the PA announcer to see who's who.

For what it's worth, the Irish finish the regular season at 8-2 after beating Auburn, 54-28. Yes, the scores resemble the Arena game, or a lopsided high school or college game. The two teams will meet again, right back at Lansingburgh, on September 8, in the first round of the Northeastern Football Alliance playoffs.

The Irish's, and the league's, for that matter, Facebook page hasn't been updated recently. Troy's only losses were a season sweep at the hands of division champion Syracuse. Here's to hoping they'll draw a bigger crowd in thirteen days.
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Such hopes, though, could be problematic if the Tri-City Valleycats also have a post-season berth. With nine games left, Tri-City holds a four game lead over Lowell in the Stedler division after dropping a 7-6 decision in 10 innings to McNamara Division leader Hudson Valley on Saturday. The 'Cats close the home portion of their schedule starting tonight vs. Aberdeen. The regular season ends Labor Day at Vermont, with the playoffs starting two days later. After the home finale Tuesday, Tri-City returns to Lowell for a three game series that could decide the division, so, stay tuned.
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Saratoga, they say, is the "Graveyard of Favorites". That held true Saturday, as Catholic Boy won the Travers in a mild upset. Local trainer Chad Brown's duo of Good Magic & Gronkowski, the latter named for New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, finished near the back of the pack. After all the hype, Wonder Gadot, the filly named for Wonder Woman and film star Gal Gadot, finished last. No one saw that coming.

For what it's worth, Patriot haters are probably happy Gronkowski finished 8th.
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The Little League World Series wraps today with South Korea meeting Hawaii. No one saw that coming, either. The New York tabloids wasted space hyping the team from Staten Island, but they fell in the US semi-finals to Georgia. As the late Walter Cronkite put it, ever so deftly, that's the way it is.
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Speaking of the Patriots, how is it possible that the NFL's Evil Empire can have three pre-season home games? They host the Giants on Thursday, but the starters likely won't see much action. Both are 2-1, after the Giants beat the Jets on Friday, and the Pats fell to Carolina. Let's remember that Patriots owner Bob Kraft is also on a couple of committees, and thus his team will get preferential treatment, particularly just one road game in August.

Meanwhile, the NFC East figures to be a little more competitive now that the Washington Trumpets have signed Adrian Peterson. The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have struggled of late, losing by a count of 5-0 the other night, and it looks like they're ready to move on from Nick Foles as their starting quarterback. Getting Carson Wentz back can't come soon enough for them, it seems.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

NBC Fall Preview 40 years ago (1978)

The following video has most, but not all, of NBC's freshman entries of 1978. Who's Watching The Kids (previously reviewed) was omitted.

NBC was the last place network around this time, and former CBS & ABC programming head Fred Silverman was brought in to try to turn the network around. Unfortunately for Silverman, he left his gold touch at ABC.

Newcomers:

Grandpa Goes to Washington (Tuesdays): Jack Albertson, fresh from Chico & The Man, stars as a college professor turned US Senator. With Roger Bowen (ex-Arnie) & Larry Linville (ex-M*A*S*H). Nicolas Coster (Another World), later of Lobo, appears in the pilot, but additional participation does not appear to extend beyond the pilot.

Sword of Justice (Saturdays): Dack Rambo (ex-The Guns of Will Sonnett) returns as an ex-con-turned-vigilante seeking to take down the white collar crooks who think they're above the law.

Lifeline (Sundays): A reality-based documentary series following various doctors.

Dick Clark's Live Wednesday: Like Grandpa, the uber-busy Clark (American Bandstand) didn't make it past Christmas with this attempt at a live variety show, seeking to recapture the earlier success he had with a variety show on ABC.

The Eddie Capra Mysteries (Fridays): Vincent Baggetta has the title role as a cerebral, street smart sleuth. Viewers didn't give him a chance.

W. E. B. (Thursdays): Network drama that would've succeeded elsewhere. Didn't know until screening the video, but it was the return of Richard Basehart (ex-Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea) to series television after 10 years away. Basehart's last TV project for NBC was the pilot for Knight Rider four years later. Basehart's voice over, carrying over from that series' pilot, was subsequently edited off syndicated reruns for some reason.

The Waverly Wonders (Fridays): Joe Namath, after making some movies during his football career, tries out television as a high school history teacher/basketball coach. Another early exit.

The rest of the time is given to miniseries such as Centennial and movies & specials.



The funny thing was, Scott Baio (Who's Watching The Kids) was included in the montage at the start of the video, but, as noted, there was no trailer for Kids due to an editing issue.

Rating: C.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A celebration of excess: Lifestyles of The Rich & Famous (1984)

Spun off from Entertainment Tonight, Lifestyles of The Rich & Famous launched in March of 1984, and ran for 12 seasons in syndication, inviting viewers to learn about the upper crust and how they lived. As if the supermarket tabloids weren't already speculating, often falsely, on that subject.

Gossip reporter Robin Leach hosted for the entirety of the show's run, joined by actress Shari Belafonte in the final season. Leach used the contacts he had in print media, and those he had acquired from working on Entertainment Tonight, to take viewers around the world in the course of an hour. Flailing ratings might explain why Belafonte was added in 1994.

Here's a sample episode from season 2:



In memory of Leach, who passed away today at 76.

Rating: B-.

High School Fridays: Scotia-Glenville @ Troy (women's soccer), 8/24/18

Last year, Troy High's women's soccer team limped into the off-season after a 2-15 campaign, eliminated in the first round of the sectionals. With just two seniors on this year's roster, coach Justin Haviland knows his team is a work in progress.

The school's website didn't bother updating their schedule to reflect a schedule change that had been announced at least a couple of weeks ago on Schedule Galaxy, the new go-to website for Section 2 sports. Troy opened the 2018 season facing one of the elite teams in the Foothills Council, Scotia-Glenville. The JV game was originally scheduled for a 4 pm start, but was moved up two hours to 2 pm, meaning the varsity game was moved to 4 pm from its original 6 pm kickoff.

It was not a good day for Troy all around. The student volunteers manning the press box either didn't know how to operate the scoreboard, specifically the game clock, or just weren't fully invested or interested in the job at hand. Worse, there was no adult supervision, thirteen days before class is in session for the new season. Twice in the first half, and once in the second half, the officials and some fans had to prod the volunteers to start the clock. Not good.

Unlike Troy, Scotia's roster is not available online, so I can't tell you who scored the goals for the Lady Tartans. What I can tell you is that the Lady Tartans played outstanding defense, cutting off offensive running lanes, and contesting virtually every pass and shot. Troy left some holes on defense, and it proved costly. Scotia led, 1-0, at halftime, then added a pair in the second half to ice the game, opening the season with a 3-0 verdict.

Troy will spend the weekend working on their defense, hoping it tightens up in time for the Suburban Council opener Tuesday afternoon vs. Ballston Spa. In a case of karmic balance, the start time for this game has also been changed. Originally, the JV's would hit the pitch at 9 am, with the varsity to follow at 11. Now, each game moves up two hours, with the JV's at 11, and the varsity at 1 pm. After that, coach Haviland's club will have a week off before their road opener at Guilderland.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Advertising For Dummies: "The Odd Couple" reunite to shill for Eagle Snacks (1986)

Eagle Snacks are still around, now owned by something called River West Brands, which also acquired Brim coffee from General Foods several years back before all those mergers. Eagle was originally a non-beverage brand produced by Anheuser-Busch, which sold the brand to Procter & Gamble 22 years ago. P & G subsequently moved Eagle to its current home.

When Eagle was introduced, Anheuser-Busch reunited the stars of TV's original Odd Couple, Jack Klugman (at the time starring on Quincy, M. E.) & Tony Randall, for what amounts to a variant on an old vaudeville routine......!

Edit, 2/26/21: Have to change the video. Here, they're doing the ol' hidden camera ream.



River West is working on rebooting the Eagle brand, so look for it to resurface at your favorite supermarket sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Musical Interlude: If You're Gone (2000)

Today, Matchbox Twenty's 2000 hit, "If You're Gone", is a staple of adult contemporary radio. There's a good reason for that. It's a gentle ballad that tugs at the heartstrings.

A Cyclone without a storm (Brooklyn @ Tri-City, 8/21/18)

It was hockey night at Joe Bruno Stadium on Tuesday night, and a baseball game broke out.

With the obligatory joke out of the way, the Tri-City Valleycats sported special Team USA hockey style uniforms for Tuesday's game vs. the Brooklyn Cyclones, with proceeds to benefit the MS Foundation. Having snapped a four game losing streak in beating Brooklyn on Monday, the 'Cats sought to maintain the late season momentum with two weeks left in the regular season.

With one out in the home 1st, Enmanuel Valdez doubled into the gap in left center, and came around on a single by Carlos Machado to give Tri-City an early 1-0 lead. In the 2nd, with the hosts now up, 2-0, Drew Ferguson, on an injury rehab assignment and his 2nd stint with the 'Cats (he was drafted by Houston in 2015), slammed a 2 run homer into the berm in left center, scoring Andy Pineda ahead of him. Ferguson figures to be going back up the ladder in short order.

In the 4th, Michael Wielansky belted his 2nd homer of the year in virtually the same area as Ferguson's bomb to increase the lead to 5-0.

Both starters, Tri-City's Brett Daniels and Brooklyn's Jose Butto, were lifted after 4 innings. Brooklyn reliever Tommy Wright shut down the Valleycats the rest of the way, and all told, each side registered 10 total strikeouts. Shawn Dubin, the 2nd 'Cats pitcher, picked up the win with three strong innings of relief. Daniels had not allowed a hit in his 4 innings, giving up just a walk while fanning three. Dubin gave up a run on three hits while walking two and striking out three. Matt Moclair was shaky, giving up a run on his own error in the 8th, and walked three. Luis DePaula picked up the save in the 9th.

In the spirit of the night, the 'Cats used the theme music from NBC's NHL broadcasts, and put up a goal light on the video board when the 'Cats scored. You had to be there.

Monday, August 20, 2018

On The Air: American Top 40 (1970)

It's hard to believe, but in July 2020, American Top 40 will turn 50.

Starting with a network of seven stations in 1970, American Top 40 has become as much a fabric of pop culture as the music heard on the show. Co-created and hosted by Casey Kasem, AT40 used Billboard's Hot 100 chart to count down the 40 biggest hits in the country. Kasem, at the time better known for his cartoon work (i.e. Scooby-Doo), had worked in different parts of the country, including Buffalo and Detroit, before venturing to Los Angeles in the late 60's, where he hosted a regional dance show, Shebang. You might say that Scooby-Doo, among others, helped Kasem get AT40 on the air.

However, a salary dispute led to Kasem's departure in the summer of 1988. Shadoe Stevens (Hollywood Squares) took over as host, but a steady decline in ratings led to---Zoinks!---cancellation in 1995. At that point, the series had been discontinued in most of the country, and played mostly in foreign markets until January 1995. Three years later, AT40 returned, with Kasem back at the helm after a rival syndicator had dropped his program.

One of the most popular features was the Long Distance Dedication segment, which launched in 1978, usually twice per episode. This was inspired by spoken word single Kasem recorded in 1964, "Letter From Elena" (Like, did you really think he'd try to sing?), but it took 8 years into the run before the dedications became a part of the show.

Today, one of the busiest men in show business, Ryan Seacrest (American Idol, Live! With Kelly & Ryan, etc.), serves as host, and has incorporated features from his daily show into AT40, and vice versa. Seacrest is in his 14th year as MC, and the show has been on more FM stations since the 80's, and can also be heard online on Iheartradio.com.

Edit, 2/25/21: I've had to change the video. This time, we're going back to the end of the 70's, as Casey plays the 50 biggest songs of the decade:



Kasem even poked fun at himself. There was a scene in a Scooby-Doo DTV, I think, where Shaggy (Kasem) decides to mimic the radio legend. Way too easy to do, of course. We lost Casey in 2014, five years after he'd ended his radio career.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

Major League Baseball began a tradition last year with the introduction of the Little League Classic, a regular season game played at the home of the Little League World Series, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

This year's game capped a 5-game, 4-day series between the Philadelphia Phillies, whose NY-Penn League team plays in Williamsport, and the Mets. The Mets knocked the Phils out of a tie for 1st in the NL East with an 8-2 win. Jason Vargas, the weak link in the Met rotation this season, picked up the win, a little more than 24 hours after Jacob deGrom pitched a complete game gem against the Phils. And everyone thinks the Mets won't make the playoffs? There's still a little more than a month to go, and, as the Yankees proved 40 years ago, a lot can happen in that amount of time.
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Meanwhile, the Tri-City Valleycats are hanging on to 1st place in the Stedler Division of the NY-Penn League by a thread as they entertain Brooklyn tonight after getting swept by second place Lowell over the weekend. Including tonight, the 'Cats have just six home games left, as they will visit the Hudson Valley Renegades after their series with Brooklyn finishes on Wednesday. Would they still get in as a wild card? I'm not so sure.
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As of press time, Saturday's Northeastern Football Alliance game between the Troy Fighting Irish and Syracuse Strong had not been reported. Syracuse is the only team to beat Troy this season, and that was at Lansingburgh High earlier this summer. The Irish return to Lansingburgh for the home finale vs. Auburn on Saturday night, and a loss to Syracuse would give the Strong the division.
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Vince McMahon needs to get a clue.

It was one thing that Roman Reigns finally took down Brock Lesnar and ended the latter's overlong Universal title reign Sunday at Summerslam, even with Braun Strowman looming with the Money in The Bank briefcase. Lesnar disposed of Strowman, preventing a cash-in and the likely coronation of Strowman as the new standard bearer for the company, ensuring that McMahon finally got what he wanted, and that was Reigns as the top dog for Monday Night Raw. McMahon's myopic tunnel vision has gotten Reigns nothing but scorn from the internet community the last four years, and it's going to take a long time before Reigns, who was a college football star at Georgia Tech (real name-Joseph Anoia) before turning to wrestling, mirroring the career path of his much more famous cousin, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (a Miami grad), can be redeemed in the eyes of the fans.

On the other hand, McMahon engendered even more apathy over on Smackdown in the women's division. After Becky Lynch had earned a title match vs. Carmella, Charlotte Flair came off the disabled list at the end of July, and was inserted into the title match at Summerslam. The end result? Flair won the title, and Lynch, with a rabid Brooklyn crowd behind her, turned on her friend after the match. Obviously, McMahon wanted the opposite reaction, and didn't get it, and this is where he needs to really find a few clues. Today's fans are a lot smarter than the 72 (soon to be 73 later this week) year old promoter would care to admit, and it shows in places like Brooklyn, Chicago, Montreal, etc., where audiences will cheer for whomever they want, not specifically the ones McMahon has anointed as the crowd favorites. In Brooklyn, the crowd turned on Flair, the daughter of Hall of Famer Ric Flair, right along with Lynch.

Do I have to say it? It's way past time for McMahon to retire.

Of course, the bigger headline in the aftermath of Sunday night wasn't Reigns finally beating Lesnar, but rather, former UFC star Ronda Rousey reducing Raw women's champ Alexa Bliss to a quivering schoolgirl in claiming the title, and becoming the 2nd fighter to win titles in both WWE & UFC (Lesnar, of course, is the other). People will complain about this, too, feeling that Rousey, who's also an actress in her spare time (her latest, "Mile 22", opens this week), was rushed to the title if only to get some attention on ESPN, FS1, etc., but the sad truth is that this is exactly what McMahon craves at his advanced age. He wants to keep his company relevant, even if his main roster brands have been eclipsed by NXT.

And, on that note, Triple H (Paul Levesque) should be the one running the main roster now. He is the man in charge of NXT, and has turned it into an even bigger phenomenon than WWE itself was in the glory years of the 80's and in the Attitude Era. However, McMahon stubbornly, defiantly, clings to the only success he's had, thinking WWE will crumble without him. Someone should get him a sedative and send him to the retirement home.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Of Recent Vintage: The King of Queens (1998)

It seemed fitting that The King of Queens aired on Mondays for most of its run on CBS (1998-2007), as the network has traditionally had strong comedy blocks on Mondays over the years.

Kevin James top-lined as Doug Heffernan, a driver for a delivery company that was set up as a parody of UPS. Leah Remini, whose resume included stints on shows as diverse as Who's The Boss and Saved by The Bell, played Doug's wife, Carrie. Adding to the comic tension was Jerry Stiller (ex-Seinfeld) as Carrie's father, Arthur, who worked a variety of jobs in the course of the series. If you subbed out the delivery truck for, say, a bus, you'd think that maybe, just maybe, the show's creators might've found inspiration in Jackie Gleason's seminal The Honeymooners. All they lacked was having another couple as neighbors, a la Honeymooners & I Love Lucy to name two examples.

I'm not risking the copyright police by trying to put up an episode at this time, so we'll use a sample open, with the theme performed by Billy Vera & The Beaters:



I am hoping, though, that a Christmas episode, with guest star Lou Ferrigno (ex-The Incredible Hulk, Trauma Center) is still available come December, though.

Rating: B.

Celebrity Rock: I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)(1981)

We know this much. There were no #1 songs that came from Laverne & Shirley during its run, and they blew an opportunity to release a soundtrack album back in the day.

However, the series did have among its guest stars someone who legitimately had a #1 hit. That would be Vicki Lawrence (ex-The Carol Burnett Show), who popped up a few times as Sgt. Alvina Plout, the last of which apparently was in season 6, when Sgt. Plout went AWOL due to a broken heart, and hides out with Laverne & Shirley (Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams). 8 years removed from topping the Hot 100 with "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia", Lawrence dons a wig to become a lounge singer, with the MP's hot on Sgt. Plout's trail.

In this segment, the girls join their former CO for a cover of Barbara George's "I Know (You Don't Want Me No More)". The YouTube poster didn't know the whole title.



There's plenty more where that came from, as there are more musical clips to be had, at least for now.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

What Might've Been: The Game Game (1969)

The Game Game? What kind of generic title is that?

Well, generic ain't the point. This comes from the warped imagination of Chuck Barris, who sold this one year wonder into syndication in 1969.

I think the idea here was for a lone contestant to determine how much she had in common with the celebrity panelists. Apparently, no one at ABC or any other network wanted to touch this with a ten foot pole. Host Jim McKrell is better known for his later work, hosting NBC's Celebrity Sweepstakes, for example, and later taking a turn in doing some acting.

Edit, 7/20/20: Had to change the video.

Our panel for this show consists of a clean shaven George Carlin, author Jacqueline Susann, & actor Andrew Prine:



Until The Gong Show a few years later, this was the last Barris game to use celebrities.

No rating.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Musical Interlude: Change (1982)

Ex-Babys frontman John Waite went solo in 1982, and his first video, "Change", got significant airplay on MTV, back when it was the hip place to be.

We're led to believe Waite is playing a news reporter trying to help a potential suicide victim, but then.......



"Change" was a cover of a track by the group, Spider, released a year earlier. Neither version cracked the Top 40, and Waite had two shots. In 1982, "Change" failed to reach the Top 40, but peaked at #16 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Three years later, "Change" was reissued as a track on the soundtrack to the movie, "Vision Quest", but peaked at #54 on the Hot 100.

Waite's producer was Neil Geraldo, husband of Chrysalis label-mate Pat Benatar, and Scandal vocalist Patty Smyth, heard but not seen in the video, contributed backing vocals.

On Stage: Zan & The Winter Folk w/Tim Leonard & Raya Malcolm, 8/17/18

Troy Foundry Theatre artistic director David Girard hosted the latest in the company's Summer Pop-Up series in his 4th Street home. The backyard was converted into a makeshift tent theatre in anticipation of torrential downpours and thunderstorms. Good thing, too, because Mother Nature just had to have the last word.

Tim Leonard opened the festivities shortly after 7:30 with a short set comprised mostly of Townes Van Zant covers. Leonard's voice falls somewhere in between Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan. I'm not all that familiar with Van Zant's work, though I've heard other artists cover him over the years.

The ambience of the "theatre" recalled the late, lamented Rolls Touring Company, which breathed its last nearly 25 years ago after moving from its basement home on 4th Street and into the former Puritan Tea Room on 3rd. That space now houses Capital Cash. Go figure.

Raya Malcolm was up next, with a short set of original numbers, fresh out of the box, if you will. Instead of a guitar, Raya used a ukelele, which is rare in this day and age. The "sad" love songs were balanced by Raya's charm and presence. I think we may see more of her, and soon.

Headliners Zan & The Winter Folk had just played another venue in the city two weeks ago, and will play a couple more gigs in town. They're at the Hangar on The Hudson tomorrow, and return downtown in 2 weeks at the River Street Pub, with a Sunday show in Round Lake in between. Prior to the main event, Girard announced the 2018-9 season for the Foundry Theatre, which will be posted on their website tomorrow morning.

Unfortunately for Zan Strumfeld and her band, they barely got about 2-3 songs into their set, and were ready to queue up a tribute to Aretha Franklin before the leaks in the makeshift tent forced an abrupt end to the evening.

Props to Girard, Emily Curro, and the rest of the Foundry Theatre crew for mounting the show and improvising the tent in the hope they could fill the three hour window scheduled. Improvisation, after all, is in the spirit of theatre.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Weasel of The Week: Jose Urena

It used to be that in baseball, it was accepted that if you were a hot hitter, and had smacked a home run or two or three, you were bound to be brushed back by an inside pitch, just to keep things honest.

Today, emotions run higher than they have in the past. Today's generation of players will take the frustration of a losing season out on the field with them with mayhem on their minds.

Case in point: Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna, Jr. is one of the hottest players on the planet right now. He's hit 12 homers this season, and is a candidate, along with Washington teenager Juan Soto, for National League Rookie of The Year.

In contrast, the Miami Marlins, in year 1 of the Derek Jeter era of ownership (the ex-Yankee star is the face of the ownership group, but I doubt he's the one making the final decisions alone), are in the basement of the NL East. Acuna had burned them earlier in their series this week, and on Wednesday, Marlins starter Jose Urena decided to do something about it.......



Urena was ejected after 1 pitch, the quickest ejection of a starting pitcher in a NL game. John Lackey, when he was with the Angels a few years back, was ejected after just 2 pitches in the first inning. Atlanta manager Brian Snitker was also tossed, and Acuna removed himself from the game after taking the field in the visiting 2nd, as the swelling in his elbow was taking effect. The umpires, really, had no choice but to take action as soon as possible, hence Urena getting the heave-ho after some delay.

With teams more and more skittish about player injuries hurting their bottom lines, pitching inside has become all but obsolete. Urena is a young player with a bright future, one that could be dimmed if they don't rein in his emotions and quickly, before he develops a reputation he doesn't deserve as a headhunter. As it is, his immature lack of patience earns Urena a set of Weasel ears. The Players' Association shouldn't bother appealing any suspension commissioner Rob (Not-so-mighty) Manfred hands out. No coddling the guilty this time.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

It has just come across the wires that the "Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin, has passed away after an illness at 76.

Daughter of a Baptist minister, Aretha began her career singing gospel songs in her father's church, and recorded her first gospel record in 1956. After six years with Columbia, Aretha switched labels to Atlantic in 1967, and the hits started coming. "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman". "Think". "R-E-S-P-E-C-T", and so on.

The 80's found Aretha making her acting debut in "The Blues Brothers". In the storyline, she was the wife of guitarist Matt Murphy. Franklin would return 18 years later in the sequel, "Blues Brothers 2000". Her only other films were documentaries, including a bio on Quincy Jones. In the mid-80's, she changed labels again, moving to Arista, where she scored a huge hit with "Freeway of Love" (which we posted the other day), as well as duets with Elton John ("Through The Storm"), Whitney Houston ("It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Ever Gonna Be"), George Michael ("I Knew You Were Waiting For Me"), and the Eurythmics' Annie Lennox ("Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves").

Aretha was also immortalized in the lyrics of Steely Dan's 1980 hit, "Hey Nineteen".

Bank on this. Come Grammy time this coming winter, they will honor the "Queen of Soul" with a major tribute.

Let's go back to 1980, and "The Blues Brothers", for a sequence leading to a performance of "Think".



Rest in peace, Aretha. God has called you home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

What Might've Been: Crime Story (1986)

Even when they were at the top of the ratings mountain, NBC suits made moves that made you wonder where their heads were sometimes.

Take, for example, Crime Story. For the first time since Buck Rogers in The 25th Century seven years earlier, the series began with a feature film release. ABC-Marvel's Inhumans went that route last year, and bombed, proving that it doesn't always work. NBC assigned the series to a Friday berth, coupled with and meant to complement Miami Vice, whose creator, Michael Mann, was also a producer on Crime Story. However, Mann was working with New World Television after Universal decided to pull out due to budget issues.

Crime Story ran for 2 seasons (1986-8), and its demise came about after NBC foolishly moved it to Tuesdays for season 2, opposite ABC's goofy Moonlighting.

Crime Story boasted a strong ensemble cast, fronted by Dennis Farina and Anthony Denison. Denison, in fact, would work on two series concurrently in season 2, as he was also cast in CBS' Wiseguy, a Stephen Cannell entry that had a healthier run. The theme song is a reworking of Del Shannon's classic, "Runaway", with new lyrics to reflect the subject matter of the show.

The Rap Sheet provides the intro:



Don't ya wish this was on cable today?

No rating. Never saw the show.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Musical Interlude: Freeway of Love (1985)

With news that the "Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin, has been hospitalized, let's look back at the video that introduced her to the MTV generation.

"Freeway of Love" was a single off Aretha's 1985 CD, "Who's Zoomin' Who", and, as shown in the video, sax ace Clarence Clemens, on loan from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, is prominently featured, as are future American Idol judge Randy Jackson and co-author Narada Michael Walden is behind the drum kit.

"Freeway" topped the R & B chart, and peaked at #3 on the Hot 100, probably blocked by Madonna back then.....

How can you call a game with no enthusiasm? Just ask Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann became a cult favorite at ESPN in the 90's, co-anchoring SportsCenter with Dan Patrick (now with NBC). He's bounced between sports and political reporting since then, and thus is on his 3rd tour of duty with ESPN, which finds him in the Bronx on Monday, calling the Mets-Yankees game because Karl Ravech, who normally works Monday night ESPN games, is in Williamsport for the Little League World Series, which starts later this week.

Viewers had two choices. Hit the mute button, and listen to the radio broadcast of either the Mets (Howie Rose & Josh Lewin) or the Yankees (John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman), or risk falling asleep prematurely because of Olbermann's droning, energy-sapping delivery. Basically the same tone he'd use at the anchor desk, but not welcome at all here. For those choosing the latter option, it's 3 1/2 hours you'll never get back.

To be sure, Olbermann was raked over the coals by the critics in the aftermath, and they dug up a clip of a 1993 broadcast between Houston, then in the National League, and Philadelphia, which was the last time Olbermann was doing play-by-play.

MLB's YouTube channel offers a condensed version of the game, which is worth less than 10 minutes of your time. Feel free to hit the mute button.



Right now, ESPN is wishing Chris Berman hadn't gone into semi-retirement. At least he can bring some energy to a broadcast. Olbermann's next gig is likely as a supervisor for National Grid.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Advertising for Dummies: Simplifying adspeak (2018)

At the Super Bowl this year, Quicken Loans' Rocket Mortgage division premiered this next spot, featuring comedian Keegan-Michael Key (ex-Key & Peele), with a guest appearance by rapper Big Sean. All Key does, really, is simplify things.



Key & Peele earned Emmy & Peabody Awards during its 3 years (5 seasons) on Comedy Central. A few weeks after this ad premiered, Jordan Peele added an Oscar to his mantlepiece.

Sports this 'n' that

Sometimes, sports editors don't know when to shut down the hype and promote reality.

For example, Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship on Sunday, but the headlines were more about the guy who came in second. You might've heard of him. Some fella named Tiger Woods.

The hype machines stopped short of declaring that Tiger was back. This was his highest finish in Lord knows when, and he was just 2 shots shy of catching Koepka and forcing a playoff. If Woods can play consistently in each tournament he enters going forward, then we'll conclude he's completed his comeback from injury.
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Before sweeping the Vermont Lake Monsters on the road, and I neglected to mention this the other day, the Tri-City Valleycats added some new video footage to hype the crowd. You might've heard of this guy, too.......



That's a vintage tape of Ric Flair at the peak of his powers back in the day. Like most of the videos the 'Cats use on their scoreboard, they pulled it, as I did, off YouTube. Guessing the above clip is from the early 90's, when he first adopted the short-hair look he has now. When the 'Cats come home on Wednesday, we'll see if it finally brings good fortune.
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The local NBC affiliate has carried NY Giants preseason games the last several years. No one wants the Jets, it seems, so the Fox affiliate decided to experiment by picking up the feed for a Buffalo Bills preseason game on Thursday. Rookie QB Josh Allen was impressive, but the Bills ultimately lost to Carolina. The Giants, by the way, lost, too, dropping their preseason opener to Cleveland, which picked up Ex-Bills QB Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.
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It's going to seem weird seeing the Mets and Philadelphia play their Sunday night game this coming weekend. Why?

The game is being played in Little League country. Williamsport, Pa., where the Little League World Series was scheduled to begin today. The Phillies do have a NY-Penn League team in Williamsport, and that's where the game will be played, not on a Little League field. ESPN's Karl Ravech will be calling the Little League World Series this week, and likely will anchor Baseball Tonight from there, too.
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Ignored as usual by the press, the Troy Fighting Irish went about their business on Saturday, spanking Broome County, 49-0. The Irish are 7-1 with 2 games left in the regular season. While the Valleycats get the majority of the local fans for their home games, Saturday had to be an exception with the 'Cats out of town. Since El Cheapo Media can't be bothered to do anything more than a pre-season preview every year, the Irish are always going to be treated like the red headed step children of local summer sports.
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We have to close with some sad news from WWE.

Former 2-time tag team champ Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart passed away earlier this morning from complications caused by Alzheimer's disease at the age of 63. It's believed that Natalya, Neidhart's daughter, who was scheduled for a feature match on Monday Night Raw tonight, is headed home and will be scratched from the card. We have more on this over at Saturday Morning Archives, including this 1989 promo....



Rest in peace, Jim.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Classic TV: Love of Life (1951)

In the golden age of television, soap operas started off as 15 minute programs, same as almost everything else. That way, the networks could load their afternoon lineups with as many soaps as possible.

Love of Life ran for 29 years (1951-80), starting at 15 minutes a day, then moving to a 25-30 minute format in 1958. Depending on where CBS placed it on the schedule from that point, it would be 25 minutes to accomodate a 5 minute newscast, or run for a full 30 minutes.

Best known today for helping launch the career of the late Christopher Reeve before he first played "Superman" 40 years ago, Love of Life was one of three CBS soaps to come from the pen of series creator Roy Winsor (Secret Storm & Search For Tomorrow are the others), and, for most of its run, was produced & sponsored by American Home Products, the original packagers of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pasta products, and its sister company, Boyle-Midway, makers of Aerowax and Black Flag bug sprays, among other items. Today, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee is part of ConAgra Foods.

I remember seeing Love of Life near the end of its run, in a 25 minute format right before lunch time. During the 70's, it was parodied as Love of Chair on the original Electric Company. Ken Roberts, the show's final announcer, also worked on the Love of Chair skits.

Right now, let's go to 1953, and a tale of a young runaway, Ben "Beanie" Harper, who would be played as an adult by Reeve for a few years in the 70's.



Rating: B.

On The Shelf: Batman comes to Riverdale, and other silliness

I realize this report's a wee bit late, but let's get to it.

The conclusion of the 2-part Archie's Superteens vs. Mighty Crusaders miniseries came & went, and, well, if you didn't see the twist ending coming, you probably hadn't been reading the last Jughead series. If I've interpreted the script correctly, the two teams didn't really meet, or did they? That's the question the reader is left asking. In all honesty, having read the last Superteens appearance in Jughead a couple of years ago, I should've seen it coming. That said, it's not really a bait & switch, just a means for the publisher to remind readers that they don't believe the campy Superteens should be part of Archie canon more than 50 years later. Ms. Vanity (Veronica Lodge) is a more recent creation, introduced about 20-odd years ago, and a friend of mine designed her costume.

Still, seeing as how Archie has also brought back Cosmo, The Merry Martian and Li'l Jinx in recent times, there's room for the Superteens. After all, they did an Archies miniseries earlier this year.

Rating: B.

Meanwhile, the latest Batman '66 miniseries sends the Caped Crusader and friends (and enemies) to Riverdale. That's meant to be delightfully silly by design, and a better story, to boot. Part of the plot borrows an idea from a Batman episode. I'm sure Bat-fanatics will know which one. Issue 2 comes out this week, and the first issue is still readily available.

Rating: A.
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There has been much to-do online over the casting of Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, for this season's Arrowverse crossover (Supergirl, Arrow, Flash). Kate is gay, and so is Ruby. I recall reading that the casting call required someone from the LGBT community, but Rose has deleted her Twitter account because of a bunch of morons resorting to cyber-bullying because they're butt-hurt about something. Part of it is the fact that Kate is also Jewish, but Ruby isn't. Ok, I get it. We have a bunch of anal-retentive imbeciles who still don't understand how the casting process works in Hollywood.

Genre shows such as Arrow are aiming at not just comics fans, but a wider audience of casual viewers as well. By casting the wide net in terms of viewership, Warner Bros. & CW knew they'd get some kind of negative feedback no matter how the part was cast. It just happens that you have a few loose screws with nothing better to do raising a stink to upset the applecart. To those idiots, I say, shut up, get a life, and move on.
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If you only know of The Owl as an old enemy of Daredevil, then you've never read of a more heroic version of the character.

The heroic Owl first emerged on the scene at Dell back in the day, then was revived at Gold Key during the camp era of the mid-60's. Apparently, he wound up in the public domain, and, as a result, was acquired by Dynamite Entertainment to be included as a player in their Project Superpowers book. About five years back, Dynamite decided to try out The Owl in a miniseries, explaining away his re-emergence in the 21st century with a plot contrivance that ripped off other heroes, such as Captain America, for example. The "man out of time" gimmick isn't used that often, and when it is, it's usually leading to a good story. In this case, Owl meets the offspring of his former partner, and gets a rude education into the grim-dark world of crimefighting in the 21st century. All I can say is, more please.

Rating: A.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Musical Interlude: Africa (2018)

Just caught sight of this on YouTube. Thought I'd pick it up and let you guys scope it out. Props to Brian James at www.LAlivevideos.com for bringing this to everyone's attention.

Weezer's still out on the road, even though it's been a while since their last hit record. Anyway, as a capper to a concert earlier this week in Los Angeles, the band covered Toto's 1982 hit, "Africa", with a late assist from master song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic on accordion & backing vocals.



Yes, the Forum in Inglewood is still a thing, even though the Lakers and the NHL Kings have long since moved out to the Staples Center.

Valleycats get bowled over (Hudson Valley 10, Tri-City 3, 8/10/18)

The Tri-City Valleycats had their final weekend home game of the season Friday night. Unfortunately, the visiting Hudson Valley Renegades, in first place in the McNamara division of the New York-Penn League, decided to play more like a first place team than they had in the two previous games in the series.

Designated hitter Erik Ostberg got the scoring started in the visiting first off Tri-City starter Shawn Dubin with a three-run homer into the Renegades' bullpen to give Hudson Valley a quick 3-0 lead. Dubin just didn't have it on Friday, going three innings, giving up the three runs on three hits while striking out four. His wildness was a harbinger of things to come.

Hudson Valley starter Miller Hogan was lifted after four innings due likely to pitch count, but he had kept the 'Cats in check. Hogan was perfect through three innings before Trey Dawson singled to start the home fourth. The early exit denied Hogan a well deserved win, which instead went to the Renegades' bullpen, which bent, but didn't break as the Valleycats tried to make a game of it late.

Hudson Valley right fielder Jordan Qsar, a Tampa Bay draft pick out of Pepperdine, had a night to remember, getting his first professional RBI's in consecutive plate appearances. Qsar had a sacrifice fly in the sixth for his first RBI, then tacked on a solo homer off Brett Daniels in the eighth. Fans were already streaming for the exits by then, as the Renegades salvaged the final game of the series, 10-3.

Next up for Tri-City is a quick weekend series at the Vermont Lake Monsters before the All-Star break. This year's NY-P All-Star game takes place in Happy Valley, with the State College Spikes as the host team, on Tuesday. After that, the Connecticut Tigers, shockingly, make their only visit to Troy this year on Wednesday & Thursday.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

The NFL preseason schedule officially got underway Thursday night, and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, a small handful of players across the league, in defiance of President Donald John Archie Bunker Trump, continued their protests during the playing of the National Anthem. Some knelt. Others raised their fists. Still others opted to wait in the locker rooms.

Unsurprisingly, Trump threw a Twantrum about it. His fan base doesn't care if the protests are more about racial inequities and social injustice, as has been the case since Colin Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, began his silent protest two years ago, than disrespect for the flag, which Trump claims is the issue. Of course, he's wrong,  but while he's advising the players to "find another way to protest", the most polarizing President in history isn't doing anyone any favors by continuing to play the Ugly American card. According to Yahoo!'s Jay Busbee, Trump has received a letter written by some of the players, including Malcolm Jenkins of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. If Trump chooses to continue to listen to the closet bigots that make up the majority of his voter base, he'll ignore a lot of what the players are saying.

On one point, though, Trump is right. There are better ways to address the issue than continue to alienate the NFL's fan base, especially in the South. One way is for a group of players to meet not only Trump, but a joint session of Congress in Washington to address formally the issues they're concerned with. The players respect the military, but the perception created by the former Apprentice frontman twists the narrative with the sole intention of inflaming the voter base. That especially has to change. Yesterday.
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It took a while, but LaSalle Institute has released its football schedule for this season, its first under former Union College coach John Audino. They'll play some of the same teams as city rival Troy, whom they'll visit on September 14. The schedule:

August 31: @ Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk
September 7: Home opener vs. Columbia
Sept. 14: @ Troy
Sept. 21: @ Averill Park
Sept. 28: Ichabod Crane
October 5: Senior Night vs. Green Tech
Oct. 12: @ Amsterdam

LaSalle & Troy will have four common opponents between them, aside from facing each other (Columbia, Averill Park, Green Tech, Amsterdam). Given Audino's reputation as a winner, I honestly believe this year's Collar City Cup game won't be a blowout like it was the last two years. LaSalle will see two Colonial Council rivals in Ravena & Ichabod Crane, while a 3rd, Schalmont, entertains Troy for the first time on opening night. It's too early to project any post-season plans, but I'd say LaSalle will be a player in Class A this season.
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In order to promote the 2nd annual Mae Young Classic women's tournament, WWE is assigning backstage interviewer Renee Young as a color analyst on Monday Night Raw on the August 13 episode, subbing for Jonathan Coachman, who has the week off due to a previous commitment outside of WWE. Coachman, on his 2nd tour of duty with WWE, has missed some weeks prior to this for the same reason, including covering some events for USA Network's sister network, the Golf Channel (both are part of the NBC-Universal-Comcast family), but has been roundly criticized by some fans for his commentary. Bear in mind, WWE brought him back this year after nearly 10 years away (ESPN), so the transition has been a little slower than expected.

Young, whose husband, former WWE, US, & Intercontinental champ Dean Ambrose, is due back from the disabled list soon, could be a permanent addition to the broadcast desk if things work out. She's also working with Michael Cole & former women's champ Beth Phoenix on the telecasts of the Mae Young Classic, which will begin airing on WWE Network next month. If this doesn't get WWE out of its ratings malaise, which will only get worse when Monday Night Football returns next month, what will?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Forgotten TV: American Portrait (1984)

Nearly 10 years after the Bicentennial Minute, CBS presented a new set of primetime interstitals under the title, American Portrait. As before, each piece ran for under a minute, introduced by various celebrities.

These pieces ran for 2 years (1984-6), but it's become so forgotten, such that even Wikipedia doesn't have a complete list, and that list doesn't include this item, narrated by Madeline Kahn.



Would that CBS would release this on DVD.

Rating: A.

Celebrity Rock: Come Sail Away (2018)

If you watched the season finale of Cloak & Dagger last week (and if you didn't, it's still available On Demand), you might've heard a cover of Styx's classic hit, "Come Sail Away", as performed by series star Olivia Holt.

Oh, you didn't know? Well, yeah, the closing credits are compressed at the bottom of the screen on Freeform for ad purposes, but I found out earlier this week that the thrush that turned Dennis DeYoung's rock ballad into a soft, gentle, radio ready track was Holt, who just turned 21 earlier this week, the latest in a long string of Disney pop star-actresses (i.e. Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez).

There is no video at this time, but you can hear the song....



Now, let's see if the soundtrack CD is available in stores......

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Nearly a week ago, President Trump did what he does best, inflaming his fan base, by shredding CNN's Don Lemon and newly minted Los Angeles Laker LeBron James. He continued his attack on the cabler by labeling Lemon the "worst interviewer" on television, which is questionable. However, in the course of that interview, we found out that James was starting a school for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and when Trump went to Ohio last Friday for a rally, he made sure not to mention James by name, or discuss the subject.

Now comes word, via Yahoo!, that more than 4,000 fans have signed a petition suggesting the 33 year old NBA star would replace Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. They forget that James went directly from high school to the NBA 15 years ago, and with the lack of college education, probably wouldn't be considered for the job.

In between, Trump has been ripped by a number of athletes not just in basketball, but other sports, too. James is also developing and/or producing television shows for cable and broadcast television, including a forthcoming Showtime miniseries that takes a line from Fox News' Laura Ingraham's criticism of James earlier this year, Shut Up & Dribble. James' production company has landed a deal with CBS for a competition series, and also produces NBC's The Wall.
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Condolences to the family of NHL Hall of Famer Stan Mikita, who passed away earlier this week as a result of Lewy's Body dementia, the same disease that claimed radio & cartoon legend Casey Kasem a few years back. Mikita made a cameo appearance in the 1992 movie, "Wayne's World", a nod to his being a hockey icon in Chicago.
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The Los Angeles Rams are prepared to start the season without star defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who is holding out for either a contract extension or a new deal altogether. I wish the player agents would just stop pulling these attention grabs in pre-season, and negotiate in private, away from the press, then get a deal done.
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Yes, the Tri-City Valleycats are still clinging to first place in the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League after taking 2 of 3 from Connecticut, but a series against Hudson Valley, set to start tonight, could wind up infringed upon by rain. What else is new? It's the Renegades' only visit to Troy this year, and that could prove problematic, schedule wise, as we wind down toward the post-season.
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Mets manager Mickey Calloway may think Jason Vargas is just having a bad year.

Vargas, on his 2nd tour of duty with the team, fell to 2-8 last night after losing to Cincinnati. He only pitched 1/3 of an inning due to a mammoth rain delay as a thunderstorm came downstate, and had the teams cooling their heels for nearly 2 hours.

According to a report in today's New York Post, Calloway is open to putting Vargas in the bullpen in the season's final weeks, but is committing himself to keeping Vargas in the rotation otherwise, headed into next year. In this writer's opinion, Vargas' best days are behind him, and his future lies in the bullpen, after all.

Another report making the rounds says that it's expected that Calloway will return next year, writing off this year as the product of too many injuries. However, given the heat that owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, have gotten from the fan base, you'd think they were the 2nd coming of M. Donald Grant, the cheapskate representing the Payson family in the 70's when they owned the Mets.
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Cody Rhodes may be a villain most of the time in the wrestling ring, but outside the ring, he's becoming a hero to the masses, not quite his late father, Dusty, but a hero just the same.

After reading a message on social media from a disabled fan in New Jersey, Rhodes pledged to ensure that the fan would get to see the September 1 All In event on PPV. The card continues to take shape as of this writing, 3 1/2 weeks before it takes place, and it was revealed on Monday that the program would start with a hour-long broadcast on free TV, specifically WGN America (check listings), while the show otherwise will be on Fite TV, and streaming online at a number of sites, including Ring of Honor's Honor Club streaming service. Rhodes will challenge NWA champion Nick Aldis on the card, while ROH champ Jay Lethal will face the winner of a battle royal taking place early in the card.

Rhodes will also return to the CW's Arrow this season, reprising his role as Derek Sampson, who fought the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) on a couple of occasions in season 5. Amell, by the way, is also appearing at All In, on a break from production on season 7 of Arrow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Advertising for Dummies: Would you eat cereal on the job? (1997)

In 1995, General Mills began to expand their Cheerios line of cereals beyond regular and Honey Nut.

Frosted Cheerios' initial ad campaign suggested the cereal tastes so good that the box never closes. In other words, it was for cereal what Lays was to potato chips. You just can't put it away.

In this spot, Rob Schneider plays an elevator operator who's eating the cereal out of the box while on the job. Another Saturday Night Live alum, Don Pardo, is the announcer.



Other spots have featured talent as diverse as Florence Henderson, Wayne Knight (ex-Seinfeld), Gilbert Gottfried, and Gumby.

Monday, August 6, 2018

What Might've Been: Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, aka The New Mike Hammer (1984)

With Mickey Spillane's most famous creation, Mike Hammer, back in circulation via comic books, let's take a trip back in time to when Hammer made his last foray into television.

Nearly 30 years after the first TV adaptation, produced by Revue (Universal) and starring Darren McGavin, had come and gone, Hammer had returned, with Spillane's name attached to the title. Hollywood agent-turned-producer Jay Bernstein thought he had a winner, and for a while, he did.

Stacy Keach, Jr. (ex-Caribe) was cast as Hammer, and at first glance, looked like he was more of a natural fit for the role than McGavin was in the late 50's. Everything got rolling with a CBS TV-movie that aired in 1983, and then Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer went to series in the winter of 1984. Bernstein was linked with Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television), and CBS slotted the series on Saturday nights. Back then, it was a safe bet, or so you'd think.

After two seasons, however, CBS, noting how the ratings weren't where they were supposed to be, pulled the plug. After another movie, "The Return of Mike Hammer", the series returned in the fall of 1986 as The New Mike Hammer, but was technically the third season, returning after a year off. Unfortunately, there was still some viewer indifference, and the third season was the last, with one final movie airing in 1989.

The hook wasn't just the hard-boiled noir crime drama, but the guest stars. Take for example this 1986 episode, "Harlem Nocturne" (also the title of the show's theme song, composed by Earle Hagen), with guest stars including Isabel Sanford (fresh from The Jeffersons), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"), and singer George Benson.



I caught the show when I could on a Saturday night after bowling. I'm a sucker for detective dramas.

Rating: A.

Charlotte Rae (1926-2018)

To millions of teenagers growing up in the 70's & 80's, Charlotte Rae will always be Mrs. (Edna) Garrett, housekeeper-turned-house-mother. The actress essayed the role for nearly a decade between Diff'rent Strokes and its spin-off, The Facts of Life.

Prior to Strokes, Charlotte Rae had been a 2-time Tony Award winner, and made her television debut on The US Steel Hour in the 50's. She also was part of the ensemble of Nat Hiken's police comedy, Car 54, Where Are You?, as the wife of officer Leo Schnauzer (Al Lewis). Her standup act got her on the usual variety shows  (i.e. Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin) of the era.

In the winter of 1976, she was part of Rich Little's repertory company on his NBC variety show. Prior to that, she'd been on ABC's Hot L Baltimore, a Norman Lear entry that didn't last very long, either. After arriving at NBC, Fred Silverman asked Lear to develop Strokes, which was essentially built around Gary Coleman, more so than the adults around him, but Rae got her big break as a result. Facts of Life soon followed, but it would be Rae's last series.

The last I'd heard she'd appeared on Hallmark Channel's The Worst Witch, which I think would be her last TV role.

Speaking of Tony Awards, Charlotte appeared at the 1982 event, and performed, complete with Irish brogue, "When The Idle Poor Become The Idle Rich", from "Finian's Rainbow":



Rest in peace, Charlotte.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Valleycats win one, lose one (Lowell @ Tri-City, 8/4/18)

The hometown got a respite from the persistent rains of the last couple of weeks on Saturday when the sun shined on Joe Bruno Stadium, enabling the Tri-City Valleycats and Lowell Spinners to play a twi-night double-header, the first half making up for Friday's rainout.

In the opener, Nivaldo Rodriguez retired the first 11 Lowell batters he faced until Lane Milligan singled, then came home on a double by Ramifis Berroa. In all, Rodriguez went six innings, giving up just the run on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks. The 'Cats chased Lowell starter Taylor Ahearn after three innings, scoring three runs in the second and one in the third to take an early 4-0 lead. Jeremy Pena put icing on the cake in the fourth, greeting Spinners reliever Victor Garcia with his first pro home run, a two run shot into the Valleycats' bullpen. Riley Cabral labored through the seventh, but Tri-City prevailed, 6-3.

In the nightcap, Tri-City's Mark Moclair was brilliant, but limited to three innings due to pitch count. It took the Spinners until the fifth inning this time, against reliever Carlos Hiraldo, before finally getting a hit. Michael Wielansky put the 'Cats on the board in the home fifth, but Hiraldo tired in the seventh as Lowell tied the game. The Spinners won it in the eighth (minor league double-headers are seven innings, not nine, each) with a run off Tim Hardy to gain a split of the double-header with a 2-1 verdict. Valleycats pitchers combined for fifteen strikeouts in the game.

Tri-City goes on the road today to play the Connecticut Tigers before returning to The Joe on Wednesday night.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Remember The Man From Glad? (1966)

Let's take you back to the days when Glad brand products were under the same roof as, say for example, Prestone anti-freeze and Eveready batteries. At the time, they were all marketed by Union Carbide, which has long unloaded all three brands. Glad, for example, was picked up by the folks at Clorox.

The Man From Glad appeared in a series of ads dispensing kitchen storage bags and sandwich bags to folks when lesser bags broke down.

Here's a spot from 1973:

Friday, August 3, 2018

What Might've Been: Fitz & Bones (1981)

NBC was starving for a hit series that wasn't Little House on The Prairie or Diff'rent Strokes in the fall of 1981. Putting the Smothers Brothers in a drama was one thing, but not having them play brothers? Trouble.

Fitz & Bones barely lasted a month, a rare at the time dud from producer Glen A. Larsen for the network, which had cancelled Buck Rogers in The 25th Century after 2 seasons. Larsen, of course, would deliver his last hit under the Universal umbrella, Knight Rider, the very next year before moving his tack to 20th Century Fox.

Dick Smothers played an investigative reporter for a television station. Tom Smothers was Bones Howard, a videographer. Missing was the sibling rivalry that was a vital part of their stage act. The series also marked the return of Roger C. Carmel (ex-The Mothers-in-Law) to television, after he'd been reduced to doing commercials in the 70's (i.e. Marathon candy bars).

Here's the intro. Mind the video quality.



I never saw the show. The parents weren't interested. No rating.

Presenting: The Devil's Favorite......Mayor!

20 years after Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota, Glenn Jacobs, alias Kane to WWE fans for the last 21 years, was elected as Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, on Thursday night. While Jacobs hasn't officially hung up his red tights and mask, he is, on the other hand, fully committed to serving and representing Knox County.

Unafraid to use his TV role to his advantage, Jacobs weathered the predictable storm of political rivals using his WWE run against him. Fittingly, then, his theme music played as he came to the podium for his victory speech......



What some folks might not know is that when he's been on downtime from WWE, Jacobs also owns an insurance agency in the Knox County area, and the connection with the communities in the county carried him to victory much more so than the fan recognitiion of his alter-ego.

Curiously, I'd read of fellow Tennessee legend Jerry Lawler running for Mayor himself in Memphis, and failing. Go figure.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

On The Air: Runaways (2017)

Last year, Marvel expanded its online reach to Hulu, developing their first original series for the streaming service.

Runaways is based on a 2003 comics series created & written by Brian K. Vaughn. It tells the story of a group of kids who are the offspring of some members of a criminal organization known as The Pride. When the kids discover that their parents are also involved in some bizarre rituals, they decide they don't want anything to do with the family business, if you will.

Vaughn waited nearly a whole decade to get Runaways to the air. Marvel Studios hired showrunners Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage, who've already carved a niche with teen-centric dramas with The O. C. & Gossip Girl, to take charge of the project. The only recognizable names among the core cast are James Marsters (ex-Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) and Ever Carradine, a third generation actress (father Robert might still be better known for the "Revenge of The Nerds" movies than his TV gig on Lizzie McGuire).

Freeform, home to Cloak & Dagger, screened the opener tonight in back of the Dagger season finale, mostly as a hour-long infomercial to get extra eyeballs to Hulu. Season 2 of Runaways is in production now, but there are folks online who are under the mistaken impression that there will be a crossover between the two series down the road, largely because Cloak & Dagger met the Runaways in the books.

Here's a trailer:



While I never read the books, I get the feeling something was lost in the transition from print to screen, but that may be just me.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Musical Interlude: Funky Town (1986)

Six years after Lipps, Inc. hit #1 with their only Top 40 hit, Australia's Psuedo Echo covered and refined "Funky Town", which peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1987, but not before it'd hit #1 in their native land.

Why did it take so long for this version to cross over to our shores? I really don't know.

Sports this 'n' that

I am tired of reading about contract holdouts, and it doesn't matter if it's veterans or rookies, either way, they're listening to bad advice from their agents, who themselves are looking to leverage a bigger payday by stalling on negotiations until they get what they want.

Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold, fresh from USC, retains Jimmy Sexton as his agent. Sexton, the way the press refers to him, is supposedly football's answer to baseball's #1 pain in the tuchis, Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras. At least Boras made an honest attempt at playing baseball before an injury steered him toward a law practice and a license to fleece baseball owners. Sexton? I don't know if he ever played the game himself, but he's replaced Drew Rosenhaus as the #1 agent for NFL players. It sounds to me like Sexton was haggling over certain contract language for Darnold, and, presumably also, another rookie QB, Josh Allen. Pages from the Boras playbook? Sure seems like it.

Very few agents in any sport came off the field to move into their new careers. One rare example is former New England Patriots running back Randy Vataha, who isn't getting the client list you'd think. Then again, Vataha played at a time when the Patriots weren't among the elite teams in the NFL. I'd rather that agents were never seen nor heard.....
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While the Mets stood pat at the trade deadline, everyone else seemed to be making moves. For example, Boston got some infield insurance by getting veteran Ian Kinsler to fill in at second base with Dustin Pedroia out. Kinsler started the season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Washington dealt reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs. The other LA club, the Dodgers, bagged infielder Brian Dozier from Minnesota. Milwaukee acquired third baseman Mike Moustakas from Kansas City. You'll recall at the beginning of the season, Moustakas was practically forced to re-up with the Royals, and will try the free agent waters again in the off-season, if but because Scott Boras is his agent.

The Yankees and Mets are also finding out that adults can contract hand, foot, & mouth disease just as easily as kids.

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard will return to the mound today vs. Washington after being placed on the DL for the disease, but the Yankees are in no hurry to put newly acquired pitcher J. A. Happ, who came over from Toronto last week, on the DL. I wonder who got it right.....
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33 years ago, Philadelphia laid a 26-7 beatdown on the Mets. I remember it well, because I was on a camping trip at the time with some friends, and heard about it from a friend on the radio broadcast.

Blowouts are common in baseball, from Little League all the way to the bigs, where there is no such thing as a mercy rule. Tuesday night, Washington laid the smack down on the Mets worse than anyone ever had, even the Phillies. The Nationals dropped 7 in the first inning, and never let up, en route to a 25-4 win. It was so bad (How bad was it?) that Jose Reyes, once a beloved fan favorite, went to the mound to pitch the 8th inning, and poured gasoline on the fire, giving up 6 runs, including homers by Matt Adams & Mark Reynolds.

While Washington manager Dave Martinez began pulling his starters early---Washington led, 19-0, after 5 innings---he left starting pitcher Tanner Roark in to pitch 7 innings, when 5 was enough on this particular night. Roark helped his own cause in the 1st with a 3-run double, and scored a run in the same frame. While Reyes was on the mound, he hit Ryan Zimmerman with a pitch that was so soft, he could've wadded up a roll of toilet paper and gotten the same effect. Zimmerman, knowing the game was well over, teased charging the mound, but then backed off and headed to first base.

I listened to the first inning and change on the radio. Mets starter Steven Matz had his worst outing in the bigs, going just 2/3 of an inning, and I wondered if he was tipping his pitches. That couldn't be the case, as Washington teed off on the Met bullpen until the 6th, then took advantage of Reyes in the 8th. Hmmmmm........
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Have to get this in before I forget again. El Cheapo Media changed sports editors for the 2nd time in a year last month, as Mike (Cheese) Gwizdala left to take a New York State government job. Joe Boyle is the new sports editor, and unlike Gwizdala, is making an effort to cover the Tri-City Valleycats. It'd help if there were additional reporters to cover the hometown's other summer sports team, the semi-pro Troy Fighting Irish. Aside from a season preview, El Cheapo refuses to do game coverage for the Irish. They can claim financial constraints until the cows come home, but the truth is, El Cheapo's corporate parent is only interested in the bottom line, and unwilling to research the markets they serve. Their loss.

Now, Boyle can be a hero if he can convince Troy school superintendent John Carmello to lift his media blackout on El Cheapo Media when it comes to covering Troy High sports.